Boring Writing

First of all, I wrote 26 pages yesterday. I knew when I got to the new stuff it would go fast!

Now:

DISCLAIMER: Trish, JoAnn, Olga, the following blog post has NOTHING to do with your writing. You are wonderful. I SWEAR. (I mention this because I've read their stuff, and I know the paranoia of writers. I REALLY know it.)

I read a couple of contest entries recently that were technically perfect. There was conflict, the POV was clear, the dialogue was natural. All the things you can grade and give a 5 on the scoresheet.

Thing was, they were deadly dull. No personality, nothing to make them stand out from the crowd. And isn't that what we want, to stand out from the crowd?

I don’t know what causes this. Is the story edited to death? Or did the writer read every how to book and plot out the book accordingly, allowing no room for voice?

I do know one writer that has been working on a book for five years. And whatever the market trend is, she revises the book toward that. The same story. The story is dead. It's no longer her vision. I have to wonder. I mean, I believe in Hot Shot, I really do. I've revised him a lot. But I think I've put voice IN,not taken it out. That I've put more of myself, more emotion, more depth into the story. I dunno.

When I read (anything - contests, pubbed books), I'm looking for a play on language, imagery, something that shows some imagination. Plot twists are good. Unique heroes and heroines. Sexy heroes (not so much heroines.) Even fun subplots. I WANT to find something good.

Just don't bore me ;)

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13 comments:

Jill Monroe said...

I SOOOOOOOO know what you mean about the perfection of contest entries, but missing that spark!

But man, oh man, I LOVE it when I read something new, fun and original!

Tess Harrison said...

I think it's important to find your voice and not let others change it. And that can be really easy to do. You have to know when to change something and when not too. And I too think that people tend to polish polish polish those first three chapters making them shine for contests until the true "shine" is all gone.

kacey said...

I think sometimes people make the contest circuit and edit their whole voice out of their submission by the time it hits like the 3rd contest.

Michele said...

Mary, I've been working on my current project in various incarantions for about three years give or take. And what I'm doing with it now doesn't resemble what I started with. The biggest change: voice.

I'm not a technically-perfect writer. But that's not something I want to be known for. I want to be known as a unique writer, someone special, someone interesting and compelling. And that's what I think we should all strive for: to find our own way of telling a story.

Amie Stuart said...

Mary I'm incredibly jealous of your 26 pages. But anyway yes I've judged contest entries like that. Heck, I judged one that's taken first place in other contests and just went huh? It was perfect but it had no spark. On the other hand I had some that weren't "Perfect" that I gave real high marks too.

I finally confessed to my chapter president that I pretty much only paid the score sheet a bit of lip service. I judged on my gut, on good writing, an engaging voice, at least a hint of conflict, great characterization, original plot. Not did they use the five senses. She still likes me (i think)

Trish Milburn said...

I think people are, for whatever reason, afraid to make their writing what Jennifer Enderlin calls a "really" book. Afraid to push their characters too far, afraid to make them suffer too much, etc. I've been guilty of this myself, not wanting to be mean to my characters. And I do think that mss can get edited to death, to where they don't resemble the original spark that might have been there.

MaryF said...

Michele, Hot Shot went through the same thing. When I started, my heroine was some political assistant or something, it was doing crap in contests. I finally just kind of let go with it and now it's a story I'm proud of.

Mean to my characters? I never used to be, but you should see what I did to Del last night! Poor baby will never be the same.

Anonymous said...

I've seen too many published books that seem like they were written by committee. That is not a good thing.

JoAnn

MaryF said...

Written by committee - exactly! And something I fear.

Michelle said...

Contests can actually give you pretty good perspective in your own writing, I think. When I judge contests, I can see flaws easier than in my own work and later I can make sure I don't make the same mistakes. Or at least I try not to! :)

MaryF said...

Isn't that the truth, Michelle!

mary beth said...

Amen Mary!!!!
I always feel bad when I judge contest entries that simply have no life.
But I LOVE it when I read a great entry and then see it finals in the GH or gets the Call. :-)

Nikki said...

I agree with contest judging being an insightful tool -- there's nothing like seeing what doesn't work in someone else's writing to make you see what you need to work on.

And I agree with the voice thing... it's so hard to define it, but it's really clear when it's not there.

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Where There's SmokeWhere There's Smoke
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I'm a mom, a wife, a teacher and a writer. I have five cats and a dog to keep me company. I love bookstores and libraries and Netflix - movies are my greatest weakness.
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